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Essential Air Conditioning Tips & Tricks to Keep Your Home Cool!

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The hottest days in summer can be a nightmare if your air conditioner is not fully functional. The weather can also leave you with high bills and constant calls to HVAC services. Here are a few tips to make your summertime stress free.

Clean the Conditioner physical unit

People are often careful to clean the inside parts of the AC, but you cannot ignore the external components. Ensure you regularly wipe the condenser and remove any dust or debris that may hinder it from adequately functioning or slowing it down. Get a free quote to know more about your air conditioning unit at stlouisairconditioning.com.

Enlist the services of an HVAC specialist

Before summer, ensure you enlist HVAC services to take a look at your conditioner and carry out maintenance. This act will save you from constant repairs. Ensure your unit is inspected by a certified professional before the summer. This average cost between 70-100 dollars and saves you more in the long run.

Opt for programmed response

You may not always be around to tweak the AC to the surrounding; thus, programmed responses are ideal to ensure that whether you are home or not, it adjusts itself to the air your room requires. Smart thermostats may be more expensive than, but they save you the hustle of having to do it manually as you are not always accurate and can save you up to 30 dollars monthly by doing so.

Place your air conditioner in the shade.

The location of your AC can save you thousands of dollars because proper shading makes it run more efficiently and reduces instances of break down. The air in the shade is also relatively more cooling than the surrounding air, which gives your air conditioner an easier time when cooling it to your house.

Try plant vines

Vines have the same insulation effect as an awning. It grows faster, covering the exterior of one’s house and providing shade. These vines protect the walls from absorbing heat by blocking sunlight that heats the exterior walls.

Avoid placing your thermostat near heat.

Do not place your thermostat near the fridge, Tv sets, or other appliances that produce heat because they make your AC sense the heat and run even longer than required. Ensure that your AC is also installed in a place where the sun does not hit it directly.

Inspect your filters

Check your filters regularly and replace them when need be. This process is essential during summer when dust circulates. Ensure your system is not clogged as this will make your conditioner work harder to provide you with clean air translating to more electricity. When properly inspected and kept up to speed, it saves money and time that you will use in HVAC maintenance.

Invest in landscaping that is AC friendly

Avoid rocky landscapes’ use of asphalt or cement on the west or south side of your house. If these materials are not in the shade, they will heat up and increase your home’s temperature overworking the AC hence affecting your air conditioning strategies.

Use window film

Window films are essential for both summer and winter. They keep your house fresh during summer by reflecting sun rays away from home and keep your house warmer during winter by retaining warmth. Window films thus work hand in hand with your conditioner to ensure your air is cold without eating much into your pocket.

Ensure there is no debris

Look out for shrubs, trees, flowers, or other landscaping that is less than 2 feet away from the house. These stand in the way of proper air circulation, making your air conditioner overwork to provide col air.

Complement your conditioner

Install fans in your home as they are relatively cheaper to maintain than an AC. Check the rooms that are not usually used in the house often and opt for fans to save on cost. Set the fans to move counterclockwise and push the air straight down. You can also increase the fan speed on scorching days to give the same effect as your conditioner.

Buy newer AC models

Newer AC models may be slightly expensive than the older versions, but they come more enhanced and are more efficient than the earlier variants. They are also designed to use less electricity, which translates to monthly savings.

Close all vents

Closing all vents ensures that there is no constant air intake by the compressor on the AC. You can do this by providing that all the ventilators in the room are closed. In cases of gaps in the windows or wall, use durable sealants to seal them up.

Have insulated walls

Ensure that your walls are not too thin that it lets air out and in. If the walls are small, it will be difficult for the conditioner to keep the air fresh. You can also invest in insulators to ensure that you are not overworking your AC. Insulators work to keep your house warm during winter and cool during summer. It can also be inexpensive if you opt for the right type of insulation.

Invest in blinds and shades

Windows let in about 25% of summer heat. Investing in quality shades and blinds block the heat during the sunniest hours of the day, lowering the amount of work your AC has to do.

Use large appliances at night.

Appliances used to bake or wash can be used at night when the air is more relaxed. Large appliances produce a significant amount of heat. You can schedule the operations of dishwashers and ovens in the evening when the cooler temperature will offset their output.

Shut doors to unused rooms

Confine your air conditioner coolness to where it is needed by shutting doors of rooms you are not using. Closed doors confine the fresh air to the required room. This action ensures your conditioner does not overwork cooling rooms where there is no one.

Fit an awning

Fit an awning above windows and doors. They will provide shade and shield your windows from absorbing too much heat. This translates to the amount of air your AC has to cool.

Open windows at night

Opening the windows at night allows for cross breeze. Take advantage of the breezy summer night to enhance cross breeze that will enable you and your loved ones to sleep better at night and cut the electricity cost

These are some of the tips for air conditioning that you can embrace to have a cooler home. You can tell when it needs repair or some attention. These little actions will save you the pain of dealing with a broken AC at odd hours.

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How shipping can contribute to a more sustainable future

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This year’s theme – ‘New technologies for greener shipping’ – promotes innovation and solutions that support a transition in the sector. Maritime transport represents more than 80 per cent of global trade, UN Secretary-General António Guterres said in his message for the Day.

Meanwhile, the war in Ukraine –and the Black Sea Grain Initiative – have highlighted the vital role shipping plays in feeding the world.

Curb shipping emissions

“As shipping continues to connect humanity, it must play an essential part in achieving the Sustainable Development Goals (SDGs) and building a fair and prosperous future for people and planet,” he said.

The UN chief stressed that the maritime sector “must accelerate its voyage to decarbonization.” Emissions from shipping are projected to grow considerably unless there is concerted global action, he warned.

“Governments and private companies need to work together to harness innovative technologies such as digitalization and automation and foster a just transition that includes developing countries and promotes renewable energy and alternative fuels,” he said.

“The vessels to be deployed in this decade will determine whether the shipping sector achieves net zero emissions by 2050. Smarter and greener zero emission ships must become the default choice and commercially available for all by 2030.”

Concern for seafarers

The celebrations on World Maritime Day provide a platform to showcase inclusive maritime innovation, research and development, and the demonstration and deployment of new technologies.

This year’s theme opens up a larger conversation about where shipping is headed, and how digitalization and automation can support the sector, said Kitack Lim, Secretary-General of the International Maritime Organization (IMO).

“But technological solutions for cleaner, safer and more sustainable shipping must also benefit people,” he stressed. “In this regard, the impact on seafarers and other marine personnel, including the need for training, must be considered.”

The theme also entails support for developing nations, particularly small island developing states (SIDS) and least developed countries (LDCs).

Saving lives at sea

In related developments, the World Meteorological Organization (WMO) is using the Day to underscore the importance of marine meteorology to ensure safety at sea.

WMO has released a new publication and video showcasing how it works with partners, including national meteorological services and IMO, in providing forecasts and early warnings to save lives.

The growing impacts of climate change and more extreme weather are making marine meteorological services more critical than ever before, according to the UN agency.

“This has been underlined yet again by a recent succession of tropical cyclones in the Atlantic and Northwest Pacific, which have led to hazardous shipping conditions. Forecasts and warnings are essential to protect vessels, their cargo and sailors,” it said.

WMO is committed to the International Convention for Safety of Life at Sea, known as the SOLAS convention, through the broadcast of meteorological maritime safety information as part of the IMO Global Maritime Distress and Safety System (GMDSS).

The SOLAS convention is generally regarded as the most important of all international treaties concerning the safety of merchant ships.

It was first adopted in 1914, in response to the Titanic disaster.

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Battery-free smart devices to harvest ambient energy for IoT

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By  MICHAEL ALLEN

Tiny internet-connected electronic devices are becoming ubiquitous. The so-called Internet of Things (IoT) allows our smart gadgets in the home and wearable technologies like our smart watches to communicate and operate together. IoT devices are increasingly used across all sorts of industries to drive interconnectivity and smart automation as part of the ‘fourth industrial revolution’.

The fourth industrial revolution builds on already widespread digital technology such as connected devices, artificial intelligence, robotics and 3D printing. It is expected to be a significant factor in revolutionising society, the economy and culture.

These small, autonomous, interconnected and often wireless devices are already playing a key role in our everyday lives by helping to make us more resource and energy-efficient, organised, safe, secure and healthy.

There is a key challenge, however – how to power these tiny devices. The obvious answer is “batteries”. But it is not quite that simple.

Small devices

Many of these devices are too small to use a long-life battery and they are located in remote or hard-to-access locations – for instance in the middle of the ocean tracking a shipping container or at the top of a grain silo, monitoring levels of cereal. These types of locations make servicing some IoT devices extremely challenging and commercially and logistically infeasible.

Mike Hayes, head of ICT for energy efficiency at the Tyndall National Institute in Ireland, summarises the marketplace. ‘It’s projected that we are going to have one trillion sensors in the world by 2025,’ he said, ‘That is one thousand billion sensors.’

That number is not as crazy as it first seems, according to Hayes, who is the coordinator of the Horizon-funded EnABLES project (European Infrastructure Powering the Internet of Things).

If you think about the sensors in the technology someone might carry on their person or have in their car, home, office plus the sensors embedded in the infrastructure around them such as roads and railways, you can see where that number comes from, he explained.

‘In the trillion IoT sensor world predicted for 2025, we are going to be throwing over 100 million batteries everyday into landfills unless we significantly extend battery life,’ Hayes said.

Battery life

Landfill is not the only environmental concern. We also need to consider where all the material to make the batteries is going to come from. The EnABLES project is calling on the EU and industry leaders to think about battery life from the outset when designing IoT devices to ensure that batteries are not limiting the lifespan of devices.

‘We don’t need the device to last forever,’ said Hayes. ‘The trick is that you need to outlive the application that you’re serving. For example, if you want to monitor a piece of industrial equipment, you probably want it to last for five to 10 years. And in some cases, if you do a regular service every three years anyway, once the battery lasts more than three or four years that’s probably good enough.’

Although many devices have an operational life of more than 10 years, the battery life of wireless sensors is typically only one to two years.

The first step to longer battery life is increasing the energy supplied by batteries. Also, reducing the power consumption of devices will prolong the battery. But EnABLES is going even further.

The project brings together 11 leading European research institutes. With other stakeholders, EnABLES is working to develop innovative ways to harvest tiny ambient energies such as light, heat and vibration.

Harvesting such energies will further extend battery life. The goal is to create self-charging batteries that last longer or ultimately run autonomously.

Energy harvesters

Ambient energy harvesters, such as a small vibrational harvester or indoor solar panel, that produce low amounts of power (in the milliwatt range) could significantly extend the battery life of many devices, according to Hayes. These include everyday items like watches, radio frequency identification (RFID) tags, hearing aids, carbon dioxide detectors, and temperature, light and humidity sensors.

EnABLES is also designing the other key technologies needed for tiny IoT devices. Not content with improving energy efficiency, the project is also trying to develop a framework and standardised and interoperable technologies for these devices.

One of the key challenges with autonomously powered IoT tools is power management. The energy source may be intermittent and at very low levels (microwatts), and different methods of harvesting supply different forms of power that require different techniques to convert to electricity.

Steady trickle

Huw Davies, is chief executive officer of Trameto, a company which is developing power management for piezo electric applications. He points out that energy from photovoltaic devices tends to come in a steady trickle, while that from piezoelectric devices, which convert ambient energy from movements (vibrations) into electrical energy, generally comes in bursts.

‘You need a way of storing that energy locally in a store before it is delivered into a load, so you need to have ways of managing that,’ Davies said.

He is the project coordinator of the Horizon-funded HarvestAll project, which has developed an energy management system for ambient energy dubbed OptiJoule.

OptiJoule works with piezoelectric materials, photovoltaics and thermal electric generators. It can function with any of these sources on their own, or with multiple energy harvesting sources at the same time.

The goal is to enable autonomous sensors to be self-sustaining. In principle, it’s quite simple. ‘What we are talking about is ultra-low powered sensors taking some digital measurement,’ said Davies. ‘Temperature, humidity, pressure, whatever it is, with the data from that being delivered into the internet.’

Integrated circuits

The HarvestAll energy management integrated circuit device adjusts to match the different energy harvesters. It takes the different and intermittent energy created by these harvesters and stores it, for instance in a battery or capacitor, and then manages the delivery of a steady output of energy to the sensor.

Similarly to the EnABLES project, the idea is to create standardised technology that will enable the rapid development of long battery life/autonomous IoT devices in Europe and the world.

Davies said that the energy management circuit works completely autonomously and automatically. It is designed so that it can just be plugged into an energy harvester, or combination of harvesters, and a sensor. As a replacement for the battery it has a significant advantage, according to Davies, because ‘It will just work.’

The research in this article was funded by the EU. This article was originally published in Horizon, the EU Research and Innovation Magazine. 

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Crypto Sustainability Coalition to Investigate Potential of Web3 Technologies in Fighting Climate Change

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The World Economic Forum launched the Crypto Sustainability Coalition, which will investigate how web3 and blockchain tools can be leveraged to achieve positive climate action.

Web3, which includes technologies like blockchains, cryptocurrencies, and NFTs, has become a catch-all term for the vision of a new, better internet. Members of the coalition will explore the potential positive impacts these technologies can bring to environmental and social agendas.

The coalition launch is timely as there is an urgent need to support the decarbonization of cryptocurrency and ensuring the industry is part of the climate solution. Furthermore, there needs to be regulatory clarity that promotes web3 innovation, protects consumers, and improves financial inclusion.

“I am excited about the work we are expecting from the Crypto Sustainability Coalition. An important and unique aspect of web3 is that it uses technology to support and reward direct community engagement and action. This means we can coordinate the work of many individuals directly with one another, enabling collective action without centralized control – a powerful accelerator for grass roots action,” said Brynly Llyr, Head of Blockchain and Digital Assets, World Economic Forum.

The Crypto Sustainability Coalition is a public-private initiative hosted by the World Economic Forum and comprises 30 partners. It is convening working groups to tackle three specific issues:

  • Energy usage – this working group will analyse the crypto industry’s consumption of energy and materials to build a clearer picture of its impacts on climate and nature.
  • Web3’s potential for climate action – this working group will investigate ways in which web3 innovations could tackle challenges facing the low-carbon transition at the pace required to hit the Paris Agreement’s targets. For example, the decentralized nature of crypto-mining and its ability to operate at off-peak times may provide a new business model for utilities and investors looking to develop renewable energy microgrids.
  • “On-chain” carbon credits – members of the coalition believe blockchain-based carbon credits could address current flaws in global carbon markets, including: the lack of transparency around carbon offsets for either providers or buyers; the failure of markets to remove carbon emissions at the scale and pace required; and the inability of millions of the world’s smallholder farmers, forest stewards and Indigenous communities to participate in or benefit from carbon credit markets.

The Crypto Sustainability Coalition will investigate, collate and highlight industry standards, best practices and examples of tangible action that attest to how web3 technologies can support communities most vulnerable to the impacts of climate change. The coalition’s wider aim is to foster a broad education campaign on what web3’s potential and capacity look like, to better inform governments on how they regulate these technologies and incentivize investment and research into their development.

The coalition’s partners include Accenture, Avalanche, Avatree, CC Token, Circle, Climate Collective, Crypto Council for Innovation, Emerge, Energy Web Foundation, eToro, EY, Flowcarbon, Heifer International, KlimaDAO, Lukka, NEAR Foundation, Nori, PlanetWatch, Plastiks, Rainforest Partnership, Recykal, ReSeed, Ripple, Solana, Stellar Development Foundation, STEWARD, Sustainable Bitcoin Standard, The Global Brain, Toucan Protocol, University of Lisbon, and Zero Labs.

The new coalition is part of the Crypto Impact and Sustainability Accelerator (CISA), a grant-funded initiative launched by the Forum in January 2022 with a mission to encourage a greater understanding of the environmental, social and governance (ESG) impacts of crypto technologies.

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